Good effort earns Smokies a tie

The Trail Smoke Eaters earned their first point of the season but they deserved better.

The Trail Smoke Eaters earned their first point of the season but they deserved better.

The Smoke Eaters skated to a 3-3 draw with Merritt Centennials at the Cominco Arena Wednesday night.

Matt Larose got a rest as the Smokies put Reed Vogt between the pipes for his first start of the season.

The team led 3-2 going into the third but Chad Brears knocked in a lose puck after a scramble in front of Vogt to tie the game.

The Smoke Eaters started out on fire scoring eight minutes into the first period when Clayton Chessa hopped on a Merritt give away and broke in on a two on one, banking the puck off the defenseman into the top corner.

Just over a minute later the Smokies took advantage of more sloppy play in the neutral zone as Chris Romanchuk pounced on a puck and used Eric Cooper as a decoy on an odd man rush, sniping a wrist shot over the glove of Merritt goalie, Tyler Steel.

Merritt replied at the 12 minute mark of the first when Brent Fletcher beat Vogt to make it 2-1 heading into the second period.

The Smoke Eaters came out flat in the first as Merritt pressured the Smokies net. Vogt was steady until Silvan Harper knocked in a loose puck to tie the game.

Trail replied two minutes later as Adam Boytinck redirected a neat pass from point man J. J. Beitel to make it 3-2.

The teams went into overtime and exchanged chances in the four-on-four frame with Chessa hitting the post and Merritt missing on a breakaway.

The Smokies poured it on in the second OT but a combination of bad luck and good goaltending stymied the Smokies offence. Brent Baltus failed to redirect a great pass from Nick Wong and Chessa missed on a two on one set up from Logan Proulx.

Nevertheless, the line of Chessa (one goal), Matt Bissett (an assist) and Boytinck (a goal) performed well for the Smokies pressuring the Merritt defense and creating scoring chances.

Lack of finish seemed to be the main obstacle when it came to the overtime but it is still early in the season and it was a good effort for a young team.

The Smokies were also without Kyle Horseman who suffered an injury in the last game, Dan Delbianco and Dallas Calvin.

The Smoke Eaters play in Merritt on Friday and Penticton on Saturday. The Smokies next home game is Wednesday when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.